13 May 2019

How should society deal with returning IS fighters?

Vlag Islamitische Staat. Bron: Wikimedia Commons/VOA
Flag Islamitische Staat. Source: Wikimedia Commons/VOA

Prof Dr Kees van den Bos (Social Psychology) wrote on Nu.nl (Dutch) about returning IS fighters. Is Dutch society prepared for the possible return of this group of citizens? In his book Waarom mensen radicaliseren (Dutch), he deals with the phenomenon of radicalisation.

According to Van den Bos, radical behavior stems from a fundamental sense of injustice. Radicalised people feel disadvantaged and not part of Western or Dutch society. This often leads to anger, and ultimately to radical behavior.


According to Van den Bos, it is important that the world view of 'returnees' changes and that they are able to see their enemy, for example citizens in Western society, as human beings. Human contact plays an important role in deradicalisation. By entering into a conversation with each other, and showing understanding for the other, a process of deradicalisation can slowly be initiated.

Prof. dr. Kees van den Bos. Foto: Ed van Rijswijk
Prof. Kees van den Bos. Photo: Ed van Rijswijk

Kees van den Bos

Kees van den Bos is a psychologist, and also connected to Institutions for Open Societies - an interdisciplinary research area of Utrecht University focused on the development and expansion of healthy open societies everywhere.